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Favourite Indian Cookbook?

I have been cooking Indian from websites and my one Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, which is actually more generally "Asian", so I am looking to buy a great comprehensive one. I know she is the doyenne of Indian cooking, so is one of her cookbooks the best bet? One pet peeve I have with some Indian cookbooks is that they don't refer to the dish by its true name; rather, they refer to a dish as "Chicken curry with potatoes", which drives me nuts! Which is your top pick? TIA!

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  1. Try Julie Sahni - Classic Indian Cooking available at all good book stores. Very comprehensive and the recipes work. Good luck - South Asian food is my favorite.

    1. If I had to pick just one Indian cookbook, it would be Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking. She is the Julia Child of Indian cooking in the west. The book is well laid out, easy to follow and introduces you to the classic dishes of Northern India. She uses Indian names for the recipes but subtitles tell you what it is.

      I have a shelf of Madhur Jaffrey's books too. I like her Invitation to Indian Cooking, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking and World Vegetarian the best. Her recipes are more spicy than Sahni's, more like what you might get in a good Indian restaurant.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheryl_h

        I've been cooking from Julie Sahni's recipes a lot in the last few weeks. Last night I made her Keema Mater (ground beef with peas). Delicious!! I concur with the recommendation of Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking and I recently bought her Classic Vegetarian book as well.

      2. I love Madhur Jaffrey's books and her old TV programs, especially the ones about the "Spice Islands". World Veg. Cooking is a great book. I have her earlier veg. cookbook which is also wonderful (but probably unnecessary if you already have World Veg.) I really got into (and continue to get into) the pancakes, fritters, etc. I went through a long period of making idlis, pakoras, bahji, paratha, and Korean mung bean pancakes and rice pancakes. But I digress.... Julie Sahni's Classic Indian is a very good book as well, but I'm partial to Madhur's books after seeing her tv programs. I think I have all but 2 of her books! She even has a book of favorite recipes called something like Madhur Jaffrey Cooks for Family and Friends... very good as well.

        I also really like a veggie Indian book by Yamunna Devi called Yamunna's Table. Loads of good stuff. I don't know if it's in print (mine's paperback).

        4 Replies
        1. re: oakjoan

          I have Madhur Jaffrey's books, too....they're great.

          1. re: oakjoan

            I like Madhur Jaffrey, too. She has a book on spices, that's really small, but packs a lot of information.


            1. re: chowser

              The Spice Kitchen book by Madhur Jaffrey is a great little book. I've made every recipe in it. Years ago my parents-in-law gave me a gift box with the book and all the spices listed in the book. I still keep my cumin seed, coriander, cardamom, etc in the beautiful tins.
              I also like Julie Sahni's books and Mangoes and Curry Leaves. Another good book is the Great Curries of India, by Camillia Panjabi.

              1. re: zataar

                Really lovely idea to give the spices as a gift with the cookbook. When I started cooking Indian, I spent a couple hours at a local Indian grocery to get all the spices, dals, flours, tamarind pulp, etc so I could have it all to hand. A lot of it is relatively non-perishable too which is handy...

          2. Mangoes and Curry Leaves is the only Indian cookbook I've tried, but am enjoying it and finding it very user-friendly. Has recipes from across greater India with context with the different dishes. A cook book/coffee-table book /travelogue written by Canadians (rather than Indians) -- and while they sometimes use bastardized names in their recipe titles (saffron yogurt sundae) -- they always also tell you the real name as well.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bite bite

              Me too - I've enjoyed everything I've cooked from it.

              1. re: bite bite

                Love that book. I have others but Mangoes and Curry Leaves is my go to first book.

                1. re: bite bite

                  This book kind of opened my eyes to whatIndain cooking was all about. I had a few other books and I thought I loved Indian food, but this book took me on new routes to experiment with other spices. that bottle of Garam Masala that used to get used almost daily, now hardly ever omes out of the draw. Less cloves and cinamin in my curries these days and we are defentily enjoying the flavor more.

                  I love the vindaloo in this book and tonight it will be a slight variation on the red onion sambal and the beef cumin patties.

                  And I recall being a little annoyed at my wife for 'wasting' $40 on a cookbook, turned out to be one of the best things she's ever bought!

                2. I love "Lord Krishna's Cuisine"( available cheaply on Amazon). This book is exhaustive on the topic of Indian vegetarian food. The writer cooked for a swami for years and compiled these recipes of her own and of many great Indian cooks who also cooked for him over a 10 year period. I am by no means a vegetarian, my savy chef instuctor at cooking school was the world's biggest meat eater, (a master of French cooking) thinks this is one of the great cookbooks of all time.Yamuna Devi, food historian and cook book author won the prestigious I A C P award for this book and a James Beard award for Best International Cookbook for her next book "Yamuna's Table." Everything I have cooked from this book has been outstanding and at 795 pages, will have you engaged for quite a while.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: missclaudy

                    I second that! With over a thousand cookbooks, when someone asks me which one is my favorite of them all, it is this one. And I am not even a vegetarian. Everything I've made from this is outstanding, and I leaf through it often just for inspiration.

                    1. re: missclaudy

                      Another thumbs up for this book. It's a fantastic resource.

                      1. re: missclaudy

                        yes, yes, yes. lord krishna's cuisine is fabulous... i have made so many phenomenal dishes from this book. you'll love it.

                      2. I absolutely love Vij's Indian Cuisine by Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala. He has an awesome restaurant in Vancouver with awesome dishes..The cookbook is lovely..I use it frequently wonderful book. Love the Lamb recipes!!!
                        Here's a link to his restaurant http://www.vijs.ca/index_in.htm

                        1. Another vote for Easy Indian Cooking (also published as Simple Indian Cooking). The recipes have all worked beautifully. I use it much more frequently than Classic Indian Cooking.

                          1. I'm wondering if any of the cookbooks all you all love go into detail the cuisines of india by region/state or if you know of any that do...I have one of Madhur Jaffery's, I can't remember which, but I'm not a fan of the metric system, and find converting things constantly to be a drag...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sixelagogo

                              Mangoes and Curry Leaves goes into a lot of details -- food, geog, residents and some local gossip for different regions -- lots of photos too -- glossy coffee-table sized book which initially made me a bit suspicious of it but the recipes I've tried are very tasty. (Book is not in metric btw)

                            2. M. Jaffrey's "Quick & Easy Indian Cooking" is the one I use most. I've also gotten a wonderful curry or two from the old (1960s) Craig Claiborne NYTimes cookbook and from Penzey's Spices catalogues.

                              The dish I make that everyone who's ever tasted it flips out over--and I mean kids, teens, food-sophisticated adults, meat loaf-and-mashed-potato adults, people who've never tasted Indian food and say they don't like spicy food--is Pork Vindaloo. I'm always slightly embarrassed to take credit for it because the credit should go to Penzey's for their absolutely incomparable Vindaloo Blend.

                              It is braindead easy; the short recipe is right on the Penzey's label. They instruct you to use between 2-5 Tbs. of the seasoning per 1 1/2 lbs. of cubed pork, and I use 4-5 Tbs (the lesser amt. if I'm taking it to a mixed group) I leave out the potatoes and serve it with rice.

                              (Penzey's also points out that an authentic fiery Vindaloo would add the same amt. of cayenne, but heat lover that I am, I can't even imagine adding more than a tsp. or two, and that only when I'm making it for a group I know can take it. Whew.)

                              I serve it with the "Tender greens with Indian spices" recipe from Cooks Illus.' "The Best Recipe", sauteed julienned red/yellow bell peppers & onions, the good raita from Hamlyn's "Complete Indian Cooking". (The latter not a great cookbook but with a few very good recipes.) What a beautiful, colorful, delicious meal! My huge extended family is constantly whining for it, and I do it for them at least twice a year.

                              If you order the Vindaloo blend from Penzey's and love Indian food, you'd better order at least the 8 oz. package. You use quite a lot with every batch you make, and trust me that you're going to make it often. (As with all good spices, I keep it in the fridg.)

                              1. I've recently discovered the books of Mridula Baljekar, and have had good success with her recipes. I like her "Secrets from an Indian Kitchen" a lot, and "Great Indian Feasts" is fun because she gives recipes for holidays observed in India, including Christmas.

                                All in all, I have to admit that I prefer the taste of Indian food from restaurants to the homestyle flavors. I'm not very sophisticated that way. :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bakergal

                                  Another vote for Julie Sahni, but this time for The Moghul Microwave- the Saag Ghosh from this cookbook tops anything we have ever had in even the BEST Indian restaurants.